8 Interactive Features of DBQ Online, by Ava Armacost

I am a recent college graduate who has taken classes that use both print and online tools. With the tech tools that I remember enjoying, I engaged with the material more deeply than I did with a pencil and paper. These tools were fun, interactive, and intuitive.  My personal experience is not unique. In fact, recent studies have found that when done correctly, technology-enhanced classrooms provide beneficial outcomes for a student’s education. This experience is what we strive to create with DBQ Online for both our teachers and our students. Read more about why DBQ Online is a great interactive tool for everybody in the classroom.

1.  Monitor What Your Students are Doing

With DBQ Online, you can view and comment on students’ work anytime. All of the work your students complete saves automatically. This is great for students because they won’t lose their work, and it’s great for you because you’ll always be able to see their latest annotations, document analysis sheets, essays, and more. Read here to learn how to manage your students’ unit and essay work.

2.  Differentiate Assignments for Every Student

You might find that some students might be grasping DBQs quickly, while others might need more scaffolding. To provide different versions for different students, once you’re done creating an assignment, select “Yes” on Specify Students Who Receive the Assignment. Here, you’ll be able to select which students receive this version.


3.  Teach Vocabulary with Ease

The bolded vocabulary terms in our Background Essays can be clicked to reveal a short definition of the term. Since DBQ Online is a web-based platform, students can also highlight and Right-Click any word on any page and select “Search Google for __”.

4.  Play Audio Read-Alouds

One of our teachers’ favorite features! For all of our Background Essays and Documents with heavy text, there is an “Audio Read-Aloud” option. For many of our primary source documents, we hired voice actors to bring these documents to life. 

5.  Highlight Essays and Documents

One of my favorite features in an online platform is the ability to highlight the text. With DBQ Online, you can highlight the text in different colors! Teachers and students can use the freehand draw tool or the underline tool to mark up Documents or the Background Essay. With nine different colors to choose from, students can highlight thematically for pros and cons; social, political, and economic factors; setting, characterization, and plot; or whatever!

6.  Take Notes in the Margins

We have two different annotation features that can help with this. Our teachers like using the  Sticky Note annotation tool to type up notes and make color keys for editing. These sticky notes can change in size, color, and location (and you can leave your own Feedback sticky note directly on your students’ individual assignments!).

We also have a Free Text tool that allows students to make notes in a textbox without any borders or background. Many teachers like using this tool to number the paragraphs of our Background Essay and write notes on the Hook exercise.

7.  Expand Maps and Pictures with a Click

Do you ever look at a map on the page and think, “Why is that font so small?” With DBQ Online, every map and image can be expanded to a full-screen view. Goodbye eye strains, hello color images and readable fonts.  What’s more, your students can circle, draw arrows and lines, or block parts of an image using our shape annotation tools. Similar to the highlighting tool, they can also color-code these annotation tools to match their buckets.

8.  Preload instructions

We’re rounding out the list today with our newest DBQ Online feature – “Instructor Markup!” Previously, to share your annotations and instructions with the class, you might have had to share your screen through the class projector.

Now, using all of the above annotation tools, you can prep students’ assignments with instructions before you even send it their way. When your students open their assignments, they’ll see a sticky note right by their document with instructions you’ve attached.

DBQ Online is an award-winning platform that has been recognized for its approach to educational technology. Nevertheless, we are always looking for ways to make improvements. If you have any questions or comments about DBQ Online, please reach out to me at

« Back to Blog

1234 Sherman Avenue
Evanston, IL 60202